Social economy at a glance
Social economy in the Czech Republic is diverse, it encompasses different legal forms.
Only one form is however considered to be specifically part of the social economy: social cooperatives. They are interpreted as ex lege social enterprises.
- It is estimated that there are around 30 social cooperatives in the Czech Republic
Other legal forms can fall under the category of de facto social economy entities. Their legal form is not specific to the social economy but a portion of them comply with the definition and objectives of social economy entities. It is estimated the amount of de facto social enterprises in the Czech Republic is:
- 625 associations,
- 1 424 public benefit companies,
- 100 institutes*,
- 28 foundations,
- 415 church legal persons,
- 691 cooperatives,
- 460 limited Liability Companies.
It total, in 2018, it was estimated that there were 3773 ex lege and de facto social enterprises in the Czech Republic.
Source: Social Enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Reports, Czech Republic, 2019
*Institutes Introduced in the new Civil Code, "registered institutes" is an entity operating "socially or economically useful" activities. They embrace a wide spectrum of activities including education, culture, community-based services, social centres, etc.
* For this website we included this overall assessment of the level of development, it is based on the data and information about the social economy ecosystem currently available and therefore has some limitations. However, we still considered it useful to include this overall assessment.
** Source: EESC/CIRIEC (2016) Recent evolutions of the Social Economy in the European Union, please note that this estimate is on the high end as it is based on organisation type and did not apply a more narrow check for all elements in the social economy definition.
For more details on the data quality see our note on social economy data.
Tradition and origins
Social economy in the Czech Republic started to the develop in the 19th century with the emergence of worker cooperatives, associations and organisations providing mutual and community-based solidarity services. After WWII, under the communist regime the ecosystem reduced. Only some cooperatives and associations remained but they were absorbed by an umbrella communist-controlled organisation.
The 1990s marked the progressive return of the social economy, with the revival of church charity activities and other social economy organisations. A codification on public benefit companies also benefited to the development of the social economy in the Czech Republic.
Over the last decade European funding program have given an important impulsion to social economy in the Czech Republic. The WISES sector has been strongly reinforced by European support. But social economy ecosystems also expanded to more diverse enterprises and topics (the environment, services provision for targeted vulnerable groups, community-based activities).
Framework conditions and social economy ecosystem
Policy and legal framework
There is no specific law on the social economy in the Czech Republic. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) is currently working on the drafting on a first law on the social economy. It will especially focus on measures to support the employment of targeted groups (people with disabilities, people at risk of poverty, convicts).
There is no national strategy on social economy the Czech Republic. Since 1990s, some legal transformations have been shaping the social economy sector however (the (new) Civil Code 89/2012 that came into force in 2014 and regulates non-profit entities (associations, institutes, and foundations) for instance, or the Companies and Cooperatives Act, (shortly Business Corporations Act) 90/2012, the Act On Churches and Religious Communities 3/2002), etc.
Policymakers in the field of the social economy
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA) is one of the main players of the Social Economy in the Czech Republic. It especially highlights the employment side of the social economy by supporting the establishment of WISES.
MoLSA cooperates with the Agency for Social Inclusion to support the promotion of social economy on the municipal level by raising awareness and encouraging socially responsible public procurement.
As the coordinator of the Labour Offices throughout the country, MoLSA also facilitates cooperation between public employment services and WISES.
Regional public bodies express a growing interest in the social economy. Some regions have started to provide active support, such as the Pardubice region, South Moravia, or the Královehradecký regions. They are involved in different actions to support social enterprises including the organisation of promotion events and seminars on the social economy, the launching of calls for proposal or dedicated funding towards social economy entities, and the settling of incubation programs.
Municipalities can contribute to the support of the social economy by involving social enterprises in the community planning of social services, and by supporting WISES's activities in the context of the Active Labour Market Policies they carry out.
Networks, federation and representative entities
The Czech social economy is interlinked by numerous networks and umbrella organizations:
- Organizations federating de facto social enterprises: Association of non-governmental non-profit organizations of the Czech Republic (ANNO), Cooperative Association of the Czech Republic (CACR), Union of Czech Moravian and Production Cooperatives (SČMVD), Association of Employers of Health-Disabled People Czech Republic.
- Organizations specifically focused on the social economy: TESSEA ČR (Thematic Network of Social Economy).
- Cluster and regional centers also contribute to the promotion of the social economy locally: SINEC Cluster of Social Innovation and Enterprises.
- Organizations mobilized around the promotion of the specificities of social economy and social entrepreneurship: 3P - People, Planet, Profit, Ashoka.
National and regional authorities can get involved in supportive measures to the social economy.
- Since 2016, the government implements an EU led project called "Development of Ecosystems of social economy enterprises". This program organises events, training seminars targeting social enterprises, with a special focus on employment issues.
More recently, the Project Support for Social Entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic is planning to come in support to the ecosystem and amplify its activities thanks to the "Social Business Ecosystem Development Projects". It notably plans to create 4 piloting Regional Advisory Centres on the Social Economy.
The South Moravian supports the JIC incubator with services to entrepreneurship and social innovation (including consulting, workspaces, networking activities.
- Organisation of seminars
- Awards and competitions
- Networking and community building
- Incubation programs and capacity building programs
The government provides:
- Interest-free loans for social enterprises
- Employment aids
- Grants and prizes
- Operational programmes under EU funding
2 regions (the Moravian-Silesian Region and the Pardubice Region) offer specific support to the social economy through the allocation of subsidies.
Some actors in the private sector can also provide funding options for social economy entities such as grants in the context of incubation and acceleration programs.
Learn more about the social economy in Czech Republic
- Tessea is a non-profit organisation promoting the interest of social economy entities in the country. Website: https://tessea.cz/cz/
- The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has set up a platform dedicated to social entrepreneurship in the country. It gives an overview of the Czech social economy ecosystem and national supportive program on course: https://ceske-socialni-podnikani.cz/
- The Pardubice Region offers special information on social entrepreneurship in the region. Website : https://paradnikraj.cz/en/enterprises/social-entrepreneurship/
- Social Enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe, Country Reports, Czech Republic, 2019. Link: https://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=21202&langId=en
- Boosting social entrepreneurship and social enterprise creation, Unlocking the potential of social enterprises in the Czech Republic, 2016 Reports and analysis - Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion - European Commission (europa.eu)